Cadent Gas: National Site Biodiversity

Impact:

Our work is producing site-specific Biodiversity Enhancement Reports showing how Cadent can improve local biodiversity at their sites, through modifications to the existing management regime and/or the creation of new habitat features. This work is helping Cadent with their commitment to demonstrating net gain of habitat/biodiversity over the coming years across their portfolio of sites.

Project background:

Cadent Gas are the UK’s largest gas distribution network, managing a network of more than 80,000 miles of pipes, transporting gas to 11 million homes and businesses throughout the North-west, West Midlands, East Midlands, South Yorkshire, East of England and North London.

Cadent Gas has led on Action 16 of the RIIO-2 Environment Action Plan: Key Sites Environmental Enhancement Plan, undertaking baseline ecology surveys across their sites to establish a score against the Defra Biodiversity Metric (v3.1), and then identifying areas for improvement, implementing changes where appropriate, and re-surveying the sites at a prescribed frequency to demonstrate Biodiversity Net Gain.

Scope of services:

RSK Wilding were asked to assess the baseline ecological value of 56 sites in the Midlands and East of England and make recommendations as to how the biodiversity value of each site could be enhanced.

At each site, we:

  • Carried out a desk-based background data search;
  • Undertook a detailed survey using the newly developed UK Habitats (UKHab) Classification system, describing the habitats already present on each site and recording data on tablets using GIS, and also carrying out a habitat condition assessment; and
  • Used the Defra Metric to calculate the ‘biodiversity units’ present, based upon the area (or length), distinctiveness, condition, strategic significance and connectivity of habitats found on the site.

We will produce a Biodiversity Enhancement Plan (BEP) for each site with a set of recommendations, including a brief Preliminary Ecological Appraisal Report and a Habitat Action Plan, setting out habitat intervention recommendations to improve each site’s biodiversity. Where possible, the site-specific plans have taken/will take account of local Biodiversity Action Plan priorities, demonstrating the contribution that the Cadent sites can make to local biodiversity. All site management is to be in line with the Wildlife Trusts’ Biodiversity Benchmark requirements.

As of September 2022, 13 sites have completed BEP reports.